lifeblood: listlogs: 2001v04n059-news

ig-news-digest         friday, march 30 2001         volume 04 : number 059

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] amy ray tower web site diary (long)           []
  [ig-news] amy ray at michigan womyn's fest  [amy swenson <amy_indigirl@yah]


date: thu, 29 mar 2001 12:37:23 est
subject: [ig-news] amy ray tower web site diary (long)

[sherlyn's note: this message was originally sent to the indigo
girls mailing list at]

what follows is the link and the copy that appears on
the tower records web site. it is a diary that amy
ray wrote about the production of "stag." enjoy!

the making of stag was one long road trip. i traversed through four seasons and four states, carrying tapes from one house to another, and taking down the sounds of some of my favorite bands. my point in making the record was more about the process than the outcome. you know, that annoying thing that some sage-like person is always
reminding us of - the journey is the destination and all that.

when enough songs had piled up that didn't seem indigo-like, i started researching how i would work
with all the bands that i saw as necessary to the project. the butchies, a punk band out of durham,
n.c. was the best place to start. at some point you
just have to make that leap and when i did i found myself driving to durham for our first rehearsal feeling like a girl on her first date. we practiced in the
basement for a couple of days and then went into chris stamey's home studio to start recording. the goal with each band became to get their contribution down on tape and then i could go to atlanta to finish up my own thing. i figured if i could work with each band in its hometown and at a studio where they are comfy, i would save time and money. with the butchies, we recorded onto protools and tried to get as much of a live take as possible. the first session with them was cut short by a
snow storm, but we were able to get keeper recordings of "laramie" and "mountains of glory". the second session was months later. during the interim, i had time to listen to and work on what we had done. this was good because i needed to fix some sound problems like amp settings, drum sounds, and vocal mics. the first few songs are always the hardest because you're sort of setting up your basic template and vibe for the whole
record. down the road i had to contend with the good performance/bad recording syndrome.

ultimately the performance is more important to me, but i am anal about getting the sounds i need. we did a lot of tricks in the mix phase to adjust the drums and bass. my favorite was putting a microphone on an amp and
running the snare drum through the amp to get a better snare sound. our second session was super successful, because we had time adjust our set up. we recorded a new arrangement of "measure of me" (this song went through three configurations), and good live versions of "lucystoners" and "on your honor".

the rockateens are a killer georgia punk band. we rehearsed in their practice space in atlanta and recorded at david barbe's studio in athens. the song i
recorded with the rockateens, "black heart today," was the first song i finished writing for stag. i knew when i was writing it that my perfect scenario would be to do it with them. david's studio is cool because it uses a
2 inch 16 track machine-this means a fat sound. i wanted to experience the difference in sound between tape and digital. there is a significant difference and i think tape usually sounds better for rock/punk. there is something about the glue it puts between every track.
my experience with david led me to decide to mix the record at his studio. we would transfer all the tracks from digital formats to tape and get the analog sound in the loop for the mix.

i traveled to new york to work with kate schellenbach, josephine wiggs, and joan jett. i sent tapes of "hey castrator" to jo and kate and they worked on the
song before i got there. we practiced at kate's flat for a couple of hours. i had jammed with kate, jo and joan a few times before, so i knew what to expect. jo and kate are both heavy on the groove and good at setting up a defined rhythm track. we recorded in a studio located in an old firehouse in brooklyn. this studio used yet another recording format. kate, jo, and i set up in one room together to get the basic tracks, then kate and jo played keys and glockenspiel. joan could not get there until midnight because she had rocky horror picture
show rehearsal, so we had to finish all of our stuff and leave tracks open for her. although she had never heard the song before, joan came in and put her tracks
down without a hitch.

the next few months, in between indigo tours, i finished harmonies and guitar parts at orphan studio in atlanta. danielle howle came in and put down some vocals too. i decided to record a couple of acoustic songs. i hadn't intended to have anything on the record acoustic, but i just had the urge. "johnny rottentail" was recorded live with a royer ribbon mic and a neuman 67 tube mic. i used the same mics for "lazyboy" but i put down two tracks of guitar and vocals and panned them hard right and left.

i decided to start the mix at this point even though i wasn't sure if i had all the songs i wanted. it was an involved process to get things out of the digital format
over to tape. glenn matullo, my atlanta studio engineer, did the transfer with david barbe. i mixed in about 10 days. we had to do a few remixes and finagle some bad sounding tracks, but on the whole the mix came together in an organic way. i had to get used to not having a partner involved, but it was good for me to learn to
trust my instincts. on the last mix day, i drove to alabama after my mixing and practiced a new song with the band 1945. i had just written "late bloom" and it was very important to me to get this song on the record. so i had a crazy two days, rehearsing, recording, and mixing in alabama, then driving to nashville to master
the whole project. i arrived in nashville around 4 am and stayed up all night at the days inn listening to sequencing ideas and picking my mixes. by the time i went in to the mastering studio i was fried. mastering is a hassle but it's necessary. i spent too long on this final step because i couldn't let go.

i sequenced the cd based mostly on lyrical content. my intent is to have the listener taken through a sort of thematic experience, but i hope everyone can decide for
themselves what it all means. i am extra pleased about the musical cohesiveness of the project, which i think is due to the mixing stage. it really helped to mix on analog tape and all in one place (except "late bloom"). it also helped to have a consistent studio in atlanta to go back to where i could fill in the blanks and look at how it all was coming together. the biggest props go to the bands that helped me to create stag. they all have
their own recordings so anyone that hasn't should check them out.

xamy 2-09-01

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date: thu, 29 mar 2001 08:03:26 -0800
from: amy swenson <>
subject: [ig-news] amy ray at michigan womyn's fest

[sherlyn's note: this message was originally sent to the indigo
girls mailing list at]

amy ray and the butchies are listed as performers at michigan this
year. as an aside, so is dar williams. wish i could go! :)


full schedule:



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end of ig-news-digest v4 #59

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